Sitting in the backseat of an F-14B Tomcat on a precision bombing run, at night waiting for the target to appear on a monochrome screen inches from your face really is a nerve racking and high pressured experience. You just hope you have got your switchology all done in the correct sequence and you haven’t missed anything. If you haven’t done it right then the chances of that laser guided bomb hitting your target reduces dramatically.
Black Aces High, a book that I have just read about F-14’s in combat during the Balkans war in the early 90’s describes the use of the LANTIRN in great detail. This is why I have started to learn how to use it.
Being the RIO (Radar Intercept Officer) is a new and welcome challenge in DCS or any other simulation for that matter. It’s an effort to learn and I am just scratching the surface. Luckily we have former RIO’s who also fly this and share there fantastic knowledge.
I have been living and breathing inside the cockpit and the RIO’s pit of DCS F-14B for the last few weeks. So it was refreshing to come across something that has piqued my interest in the form of Radio General.
A while back I posted about Radio Commander. I didn’t know it had a rival but in a WW2 flavor. The screenshots on the website look superb and I can’t wait to approach a game like this with this original approach.
Intercepting a TU-22 Backfire during the cold war must have been an incredible experience to take part in. During training fighter pilots are taught the intricacies of such a manoeuvre. It’s not just a case of getting behind the aircraft as best you can with guess work as I once thought but involves good radar work, and some on the fly calculations of geometry and maths that also involves hitting benchmarks. For example if you are head to head with an aircraft you want to intercept and sneak up behind you would need to be offset to the left or right at certain distances. So at 60 miles out you need to be offset by 10 miles and then the closer you get that offset shrinks and you have to do that or you could up in a seriously bad position.
I first came across the process after watching the documentary Jet-stream. Potential Canadian F/A-18C pilots are going through fighter pilot training and air to air interceptions are a module they have to pass. It fascinated me how they did it and it looked like a challenge to say the least.
This was a reply I got from J’ello a former fighter pilot who hosts the Fighter Pilot Podcast. I was asking how the maths work since they don’t get the data from the radar.
I recall that 1 degree equals 1 nautical mile at 60 nm. In other words, if you had two contacts 60 nm away from you 1 degree apart, you would know they were 1 nm apart. As you draw nearer to each other without changing anything else, they would be 2 degrees apart at 30 nm and, later, 4 at 15.
So for a target 20 nm away, where every nm of separation is 3 degrees, you would need him 24 degrees off your nose. That make sense?
Well it sort of does to my slow brain.
Anyway so I gave it a go and setup a scenario within DCS where I drop bombs on targets and then head out in search of a TU-22 Backfire.
First I had to lighten the load a touch. A few well placed MK-84 bombs on these Russian IFV’s should do the trick.
Not a good day for these chaps.
Bombs On Target.
I have to use my radar to find that Backfire. It doesn’t take long and I lock him up.
Now using the benchmarks described above I manage to get behind it with ease and precision much to my own surprise let alone his.
I pre-purchased this module first thing this morning. A bit of buyers guilt after feeling the pinch post X-Mas etc.
Despite the now legendary status of this iconic aircraft from a military and media point of view the thing I am really looking forward to is Jester. Jester is a new, lifelike AI that fills the role of RIO when flying single-player or multiplayer without a human RIO. That for me is going to be a game changer. A real leap forward in combat flight simulation.
Not only for the F-14 but the possibilities for other two seater aircraft. Imagine a Tornado IDS low level attack on an airfield with two of you, be that AI or human.